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Nutrition Fund for healthier eating in schools

Hon Steve Maharey
Minister of Education
Sue Kedgley MP
Green Party Health Spokesperson

19 September 2006
Media Statement

$3 million Nutrition Fund aimed at delivering healthier eating in schools

Education Minister Steve Maharey, and Green Party Health Spokesperson, Sue Kedgley, today announced a new $3 million a year Nutrition Fund to help schools and early childhood education services become healthier eating environments for children.

The funding was secured by the Green Party as part of its post-election agreement with the government. It will be available from term one next year and will support initiatives that achieve healthy eating such as promoting healthier choices in the school canteen or lunch order system, shared fruit breaks for students, and water only schools.

Steve Maharey says the nutrition fund will encourage early childhood education services and schools to think about their whole school environment, work alongside other schools, and involve students in planning and decision-making.

This might include the provision of training and professional development for teachers and food preparers, information for parents, and other initiatives."

Sue Kedgley says the funding will assist in lifting the quality of food available for sale at schools, and at the same time support the health and well-being of our children, and their ability to learn.

"The Nutrition Fund is aimed at helping schools and early childhood services to improve their food environment so that only healthy, nutritious foods are sold and promoted, and children are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to make healthy food choices inside and outside school, and hopefully throughout their lives," Ms Kedgley says.

The funding will be administered through District Health Boards (DHBs) and the Healthy Eating Healthy Action groups based in the 21 districts in collaboration with others who work with schools. Clusters of schools and/or early childhood education centres will be invited to apply for funding by developing and submitting project proposals. Each proposal will be considered against priorities identified at a community level.

Examples of project proposals could include:
* Training and support for teachers to strengthen food and nutrition teaching
* Training and support for canteen managers and early childhood education service food preparers to promote healthy food choices in school canteens
* Initiation of a morning fruit break
* Installation of water filters in classrooms

The $3 million a year Nutrition Fund has been allocated under the 2006/07 Budget.

--

Questions and Answers

What is the Nutrition Fund?

The fund of $3 million per year over 4 years aims to help schools and early childhood communities become healthy eating environments that deliver consistent, positive messages about healthy eating. The funding will be available from the start of term one in 2007.

How will the funding be implemented?

District Health Boards (DHBs) will administer the funding in collaboration with the Healthy Eating Healthy Action intersectoral groups based in the 21 districts. Criteria identifying local priorities will be developed for each district. Schools and groups or regional clusters of early childhood education centres will be invited to apply for funding by developing project proposals. Criteria will be developed for the Nutrition Fund, and applications will be assessed against these.

What can schools look like when assisted by the funds?

* The school tuck shop owners have been assisted and trained by local health promoters with nutrition expertise and they now provide sandwiches, baked potatoes, healthy pizza, fruit, yoghurt, milk, and fruit juice in small portion packets
* Students lead and practice health promotion in their schools
* Vending machine contents have been replaced with water and fruit juice, nuts, dried fruit and crackers
* A home-school partnership ensures that children start the day with a proper breakfast
* A morning fruit break has been initiated where children share fruit brought from home or donated by local producers or shops
* School fundraisers use healthy foods or non-food activities; children are rewarded with suitable, fun activities instead of lollies and fast food vouchers.
* Teachers have been involved in professional development in food and nutrition to strengthen food and nutrition education
* There is increased national consistency in healthy eating environments

What other work is being undertaken to improve healthy eating in schools?

There are a number of groups already working with schools in relation to nutrition such as the National Heart Foundation, Public Health Units, Mäori providers, Pacific providers, Regional Sports Trusts, School support services and the Cancer Society. The Nutrition fund will build on existing initiatives in the school and early childhood settings including Health Promoting Schools and Fruit in Schools.

ENDS

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